[THE REPORT] Citizens associations: Shrinking space for civil society‘s activism in 2022/2023

Belgrade, January 22

We present you the Report on Shrinking space for civil society‘s activism in 2022/2023

Citizens associations – Shrinking Space for civil society’s activism in 2022/2023 is the fifth report published by Civic Initiatives, which deals with the assessment of the state of the space for action and work of citizens’ associations. The analysis was done with the aim of systematically describing the space for civil society action in Serbia in 2022 and 2023 through examples from practice. The report points to key problems in the areas of basic rights and freedoms, above all the right to freedom of association, expression, and assembly, as well as in the issues of the involvement of the civil sector in the process of making policies and decisions.

For the past two years, the degree of threat to basic civil rights and freedoms has been constantly increasing. There is also an increase in the number of attacks, both physical and verbal, as well as the pressures to which citizens, activists, representatives of the civil sector and journalists in our country are exposed. The unfavorable political climate, in which the collapse of democratic values ​​and institutions has become a regular occurrence, has influenced the creation of a hostile environment towards all those who dare to think freely and critically, and to act accordingly in the public space. Attacks on basic civil liberties come from high government officials, and negative campaigns against civil society organizations continue to spread from the highest levels of government through pro-government tabloids and media. Civil society organizations continue to face targeting and attacks by high-ranking government officials who use the decades-old narrative of “foreign mercenaries” and “domestic traitors” to discredit the work of civil society organizations and to continuously work to undermine citizens’ trust in the activities of the civil sector. What is particularly worrying is the absence of reactions from institutions in cases of attacks on representatives of the civil sector, activists, and journalists. By not reacting, violence is tacitly approved and thus all future attacks are only encouraged.

Despite all recorded examples of violations of basic civil and political freedoms and rights, and despite the fact that the holders of power are those who actively seek mechanisms to restrain civil activism and narrow the space for citizens’ participation in important processes, and despite the powerlessness of the occupied institutions to prevent the collapse of democratic social order, citizens of Serbia continue to bravely fight for the improvement of society and for the protection and defense of basic human rights and freedoms!

You can download the report in its entirety at the following link: